Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Art of Fiction

Since I fancy myself a novelist and am struggling with one right now, my second, which has ended up being a partial sequel to the first, something I originally thought would be cheesy and yet which on second thought made perfect sense, . . . a sentence out of control. A common problem of novelists. To begin again, since I fancy myself a novelist, I recently read A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. I also read it because I'm working on a class in history of public speaking and need background information on feminist works.

What a delightful essay! Amazing. I recommend it to all women who would write for many reasons, but especially because of something she says about anger in the woman who writes. She distinguishes between Jane Austen, who seems to have none of it and yet wrote works that still enthrall us and describe the human emotion and condition so well, and Charlotte Bronte, who wrote one thing that is read today, a more sweeping, Dickensian story, but an angry one. Jane Eyre wants to be free, and she feels the restrictions of her femininity greatly. Maybe that's why Rochester is so unsympathetic, really. I mean, how could he not tell her he had a wife? How cruel and deceptive he is, and yet Jane loves him in spite of himself and herself. This is not to say it's not a great novel, but the anger does get in the way.

I think a lot of us women writers are still angry. I can see it in my novel; there is a bumping up against something, something I don't get free of. This anger is especially true of an honest woman in the church, especially the Reformed church, which is probably the most patriarchal and restrictive to women (yet whose theology I most agree with, so there's the rub). I happen to be reading Mary Wollstonecraft as well, and yes, she takes forever to get to the point, and she was about as angry as a woman could be in the 18th century and still be sane, and her whole Reason and Nature ideas are pretty out of date. But the strength and boldness it took for her to write that was inspiring. I can't help feeling there is some connection between Bronte and Wollstonecraft, as if Bronte had read her and fashioned her novel around that ethos.

So am I angry? Yes, though I ask daily for contentment to quench those fires of anger, which come from injustices and the perceptions of it.

Public Speaking Online: Part III

This is a continuation of articles below on speaking for webinars, etc.  Experts give a few other preparation tips...